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May 30, 2013 5:23 pm

JC Penney Scrambles to Defuse Social Media Uproar Over ‘Hitler Tea Kettle’

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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JCPenney and Hitler's Tea Kettle

JC Penney and Hitler's Tea Kettle. Photo: Twitter screenshot.

Embattled US retailer JC Penney, which has been struggling from market share losses and last month’s dismissal of its CEO, was forced to scramble on social media channels to deny that its billboard photo advertising a tea kettle was styled to look like Adolf Hitler, FastCompany reported.

A Reddit blogger spotted the tea kettle as führer image on a billboard in Culver City, California, and a viral photo quickly reached major press outlets, including the UK Telegraph, which mocked up a side-by-side image of the kettle and it’s alleged inspiration (top left).

Although JC Penney denied the allegations, their public relations team bungled with attempts to convince bloggers, including actress Mia Farrow, that had they wanted to model anything with the kettle, it would have been something more harmless, like a snowman, rather than the author of Mein Kampf.

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“Certainly unintended. If we designed it to look like something, we would have gone with a snowman or something fun,” the retailer’s communications team wrote to Mia Farrow via Twitter.

The kerfuffle shows how difficult a viral mud slinging campaign can be for even the largest companies to defend themselves from in an internet-focused world.

JCPenney's Twitter response to Mia Farrow

JCPenney's Twitter response to Mia Farrow. Photo: Tiwtter screenshot.

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  • jerry hersch

    The fact that JCP even responded is sad..

  • Wellwisher

    Apparently, some people forgot to take their medications. Teapot that looks like Hitler? Gimme a break!

  • JB Silver

    Do people not realise that this is just a crock of sh–?!
    Some moron invents this BS and the brainless mob follows like a flock of mental sheep. They see what they have been told to see.
    And all in order to hurt a company which has helped put a lot of consumer goods in the hands of working class people in USA and abroad.
    For the record, I have no connection with or own shares in, JC Penney, though I have purchased t-shirts when in Honolulu, in Oct.2012.
    Really! This is the biggest problem at the moment…

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